I think my sixteen-year-old son may technically be in the military. Allow me to explain.
A while back, Son Number Two received a nice letter from Kathrine R. Helland, Ph.D., who, as you know, is the Director over at JAMRS.
What’s that? You don’t know what JAMRS is? OK, good, that makes me feel a lot better. I had to Google it, too.
The only other identifying mark on the letter besides the mysterious acronym was a “government seal.” I put that in quotes because it was made up of the standard Great Seal of the United States that you are familiar with – the shielded eagle with the “E pluribus unum” banner in its beak and an olive branch in one claw and spears in the other, signifying that we, as a country, know Latin and are not afraid to harvest fruit trees with weaponry.
Normally the seal is surrounded by the title of whatever department of government is being advertised. This seal looked a little fishy to me, though, because above the eagle it said “U.S. Government” and below the eagle it said “United States of America.”
If it’s not fake, it’s at least poor grammar and style since it essentially says United States twice, but that aside, I don’t think the “government” as a whole has a titled seal. That would simply be the one that only says The United States of America.
Anyway, after I got done grading the letter for official seal accuracy, I looked up the acronym and found out it stands for the Joint Advertising Market Research and Studies, which is a program run by the United States Department of Defense, which as the seal would accurately suggest, is a part of the U.S. Government.
Unfortunately, the Google search of JAMRS didn’t explain how to pronounce the acronym correctly, so I was left not knowing if I should say “jammers,” “jam-res,” “jammer-ess,” or “ja-missus.”
The letter from Dr. Helland asked my son if he wouldn’t mind spending fifteen minutes of his busy schedule to fill out a survey for JAMRS regarding his future plans and his likelihood of joining a branch of the military. This information would “greatly help public officials make more informed decisions when providing and allocating resources.”
Included with the letter was a return envelope and a crisp, new two-dollar bill.
There was no explanation for the money, however the letter did mention that JAMRS had included a “token of their appreciation.” The letter went on to state that if Son Number Two filled out the survey and returned it in the included envelope, there would be a further “token of their appreciation” for his time and efforts.
Son Number Two enjoys having money almost as much as he enjoys spending it, so he filled out the survey and put it in the mail. Sure enough, Dr. Kathrine sent him back a thank you letter with a five-dollar bill this time. Again, there was no mention of the money specifically, only that JAMRS was presenting him with another “token of appreciation.”
Call it what you want to, Doc, but the United States Department of Defense just paid my sixteen-year-old son seven dollars for fifteen minutes of work. To put it another way, the DoD has hired my son to handle paperwork for twenty-eight dollars an hour.
He’s happy as a clam, but I have a follow-up question…
You never specifically mentioned money changing hands, however the “tokens” were specifically said to be included to show appreciation for his time and effort. You’re from the DoD, but your letterhead has a seal that you appear to have made up in your office specifically to look official but not actually say anything about being from the Department of Defense.
This entire thing reeks of plausible deniability, because you know damned well that you are paying minors to do tasks for you, since apparently not including money up front and the promise of more upon task completion wasn’t getting the job done. No responses back means no data for you to blabber at someone, which means no job for you.
I assume that if you lost your sweet government gig, you might have to resort to the dreaded private sector where potential employers might find out your Ph.D. is in Art History. That would be a shame.
So, here’s my follow-up question – Which would you prefer? Would you like me to pursue a legal case against your department for illegal conscription of a minor into military service, or would you prefer to enroll him into the DoD pension benefits program, since he’s retired from active paperwork duty now?
See you soon,
Copyright © 2023 Marc Schmatjen
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